Last year sometime, I can remember tweeting Long Lost Family presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell, suggesting they should do a follow-up show where they give us an update to some of the reunion stories featured in the main series. Oblivious to the first series, I then got somewhat of a delighted shock when I saw the second series of Long Lost Family: What Happened Next, listed for broadcast this week.
Overall, as the ending credits rolled I thought this first episode had been OK, but nothing more than that. It moved me in places but it also bored me too. I was unsure at the end whether or not I had just cried tears of joy or whether they had been more pollen induced instead. It was a bit too repetitive for me at times.
As with the original format, there can be no denying that this show was an overly emotional watch. Speaking about the appeal of such programmes, I now want to refer to an article that Darragh McManus wrote in 2012 entitled, ‘Reality TV: The Crying Game’. McManus quoted Dr Pat Brereton, a senior lecturer in the School of Communications at DCU where he explained that,
”Allowing contestants to cry and express themselves feels more ‘real’ than actors in a fictional drama. People watching can empathize with such emotional outbursts, as they feel like the contestant is one of them…and the music easily tap into our emotions…they conjure up memories.”
The tears here came from the two stories that were revisited. One involved half siblings Cliff Jardine and Sue Ward, being heartbroken at the news that their real mum had been found but she did not wish to have any contact with them. Nevertheless, the other story had a much more positive outcome, cue the happy waterworks.
Two years ago we saw a very emotive episode when Ron from North Wales, became reunited with his younger sister Christine, who was now living out in New Zealand. After sixty-five years apart this feel good TV programme had brought them back together again. The climax of this What Happened Next episode, revolved around two more of their siblings being found in the form of Lynn and Wayne. The reunion was a really lovely thing to watch, although I have to admit to you that I am now becoming increasingly desensitized to the blatantly obvious ‘crying bits’.
Due to the recapping of the original stories/episodes in case you had missed them when first broadcast, then part of me felt bored at having to rewatch the old footage. They were condensed versions of the previous stories so at times it felt like fast food Long Lost Family, rather than settling down to a proper three course meal version. We saw again their initial reunions that had happened in the main programme a few years ago and again the emotional intensity of these scenes was lost somewhat due to having already seen them previously. I found the new footage a lot more interesting to watch than the older stuff.
The problem with this highly emotional ending to this first episode of Long Lost Family: What Happened Next, was that I now wonder how the rest of this series is going to top it. I don’t think you can, so therefore we’ve probably seen the best this series has to offer already. This is unless other revisited stories are going to produce new siblings and new dramatic reunions, but I greatly doubt this.
I liked this programme but found myself drifting off at times and thinking about other things whilst I watched it. Not an unmitigated disaster of a show, however not an unmitigated triumph either! 3/5.